What's at stake
Freely sharing pro-life ideas on campus
The right of students to speak freely without being forced to pay for that right
UB Students for Life is a student group at the University at Buffalo, a public university in the State University of New York system. It provides a compelling voice for the unborn on campus. Unfortunately, that voice came at a price when the university charged UB Students for Life several hundred dollars to hold an academic debate on abortion.
Public universities are known as marketplaces of ideas, where students freely debate and discuss topics new and old. UB Students for Life decided to host an academic debate on abortion. After group members reserved a large lecture hall, the University at Buffalo told the group that it needed to provide security because the event was “controversial.” UB Students for Life thought security was unnecessary at an academic debate, but agreed so that the event could go on as planned.
The debate was a huge success with over 200 people in attendance. But a few days later, UB Students for Life received a bill for over $600 in security fees incurred because two university police officers attended the event—at the request of the university. The fee was more than the entire budget for UB Students for Life that year.
Not knowing if the charges were legitimate, UB Students for Life turned to Alliance Defending Freedom, who filed a lawsuit on behalf of the group. A few months after filing the lawsuit, UB Students for Life settled it with the university when it agreed to change its security fee policy and reimburse the group for the $600 bill. Now students at the University of Buffalo don’t need to fear security fees when planning events on campus—even if someone labels them “controversial.”
Alliance Defending Freedom continues to fight for the rights of many student groups like UB Students for Life so that they can participate equally in the marketplace of ideas.
Our role in this case
Alliance Defending Freedom represented UB Students for Life in a lawsuit against the University at Buffalo, and defended its right to speak freely without having to pay for that right.